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Ford Transit Connect van gets a motorsport makeover

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect

Tuning company MS-RT has revealed its sporty take on the Ford Transit Connect.

Like the larger Transit Custom that MS-RT revealed in 2018, the Connect features an aggressive styling kit to help it stand out.

A jutting front splitter and bumper with large intake grilles redefine the van’s front end. You’ll also spot side skirts and a new rear bumper, diffuser and roof spoiler.

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect

The kit is manufactured on-site at MS-RT’s Pontypool facility in South Wales. Complementing the new bodywork is a set of 18-inch OZ Racing alloys, which you can order in silver or bronze.

Giving the Transit Connect a bit more vocal range is a new stainless steel sports exhaust. Its cabin is spruced up with leather and suede trim, plus a carbon-embellished steering wheel.

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect

As MS-RT works with Ford’s rally division, there is a nod of approval from the Blue Oval. All MS-RT Transit Connects will be warrantied to three years or 100,000 miles.

So what will this tastier Transit cost you? It starts from £23,995 with a manual gearbox, or £24,995 with an auto, although both those prices exclude VAT. Add the optional sticker pack, black exhaust tips and a full carbon wheel and that price swells further.

We’d consider paying extra for the bronze wheels and fruity app-controlled exhaust.

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect

Orders will start arriving in September, but if the Connect doesn’t quite meet your needs, double-cab and long-wheelbase versions will follow before long.

“We’ve enjoyed unprecedented success with the MS-RT Transit Custom, with the order books completely full since launch,” said MS-RT director, Edward Davies.

“Our customers absolutely love their vans and the uniqueness of them, so we expect that the Connect will develop a similar following among those who want a commercial vehicle with genuine motorsport heritage, fantastic sports styling and a full manufacturer-backed warranty. We can’t wait to deliver the first Launch Edition models later this year.”

Ford v Ferrari: the real story of the GT40 at Le Mans

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

With Matt Damon and Christian Bale due to star in the upcoming ‘Ford v Ferrari’ feature film, we take a look at the on-track history that led to this famous feud. This is the tale of when Detroit fought Maranello at Le Mans.

The start of the ordeal

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

It counts as one of the most notorious stories in motorsport, and it all began due to a dispute between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari.

Ford had looked to buy the Italian manufacturer during 1963, yet found Ferrari unwilling to step away from the Indianapolis 500. This would have placed the two brands in direct competition on track.

As a result, the deal failed. Henry Ford II then directed his company to enact revenge on Ferrari at Le Mans.

Ferrari was the class act to beat at Le Mans

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

The Italian brand had established total dominance at Le Mans during the 1960s. Cars wearing the famous Prancing Horse badge had won every edition of the 24 hour race from 1960 onwards.

This included two victories taken by Belgian driver Oliver Gendebien, pictured here behind the wheel of a Ferrari 250 TR 59/60 on his way to glory in 1960. Beating the Scuderia was going to take serious commitment and engineering effort from Ford.

1964 Ford GT40 prototype

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Ford initially courted Lola Cars, Lotus, and Cooper for a partner to build the new Le Mans racer. Lola was eventually chosen, partly because the Lola Mk 6 race car already made use of a Ford V8 engine.

Lola donated two Mk 6 chassis from its factory in Slough, while Ford set about creating a team to develop and build its new race machine.

1964 Ford GT40 prototype

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

The newly created Ford Advanced Vehicles team set about the development of a new racer, based at its own British factory.

Early prototypes of the GT40 made use of a mid-mounted 255 cubic inch (4.2-litre) Ford V8, whilst later finished cars would feature a 289 cubic inch (4.7-litre) unit. Famously, the GT40 name came from the overall height of the new race car being just 40 inches.

Ford GT40 team transporters ready for the off

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Ford had taken only seven months to create the new GT40, with the completed car being shown to journalists on April 1st 1964. John Wyer was put in charge of running the Ford Advanced Vehicles team for the year.

The rush to get the new cars finished meant the GT40 would miss the season-opening Sebring 12 Hours race. Instead, the inaugural use of the car in anger would be at the first Le Mans test, less than three weeks after the cars were presented to the media.

1964 becomes a year to quickly forget

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Making a race debut at the gruelling Nürburging 1,000km in 1964, the driver pairing of Phil Hill and Bruce McLaren managed to qualify second on the grid. However, a suspension failure meant the GT40 failed to finish the race.

This would set the tone for the year, with 1964 at Le Mans a dismal failure. All three of the Fords would retire with mechanical issues, while Ferrari clocked up another win.

1965 shows promising signs for the future

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

After the disappointment of 1964, Ford switched management of the GT40 to Carroll Shelby for 1965. This came after his notable successes with the Ford-powered Daytona Coupe.

Victory came immediately, with a win for Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby at the Daytona 2,000km race, with Bob Bondurant and Richie Ginther taking third in a sister GT40.

Yet the remainder of 1965 would prove fruitless, with no more wins for Ford. Le Mans would again see all the GT40s fail to make the finish.

1966 Ford GT40 Mk I road car

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Whilst the early GT40s might not have proved to be successful on track, road car versions still rolled out of the factory, with the first example delivered to the United States in early 1966.

The Mk I road cars featured softer suspension, quieter exhausts, plus options such as air-conditioning and leather seats. However, they still featured a 335hp V8 engine.

A new hope: the 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Whereas the Mk II may have looked similar to its predecessor, beneath the bodywork was a host of changes. In came a 427 cubic inch (7.0-litre) Ford FE engine, with an exhaust system nicknamed ‘a bundle of snakes’ for its elaborate design.

Kar-Kraft also modified the chassis from the original British-designed Mk I version, using higher strength steel. Extra robustness was added with upgraded suspension components, while a strengthened gearbox was also used. This featured just four speeds, instead of the five cogs found in the Mk I.

1966 Ford GT40 Mk II

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Ford also dismissed Carrol Shelby as overall manager for the GT40 programme. Instead, priority was given to the Holman-Moody outfit who were responsible for running Ford’s NASCAR efforts. Henry Ford II was adamant that the GT40 must win in 1966.

However, the Shelby American team did continue as an official factory outfit, retaining Ken Miles as one of their drivers. The new GT40s would finish 1-2-3-5 in the ’66 Daytona 24 Hours, proving the changes were right and setting Ford on the path to glory.

1966 Ford GT40 Mk II ‘X-1’ Roadster

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Ford also experimented with a potential for an open-top version of the GT40 during the 1966 season. Initially created for Bruce McLaren Racing in 1965 with a low-drag windscreen, on return to Ford the one-off roadster was updated to Mk II specification for Shelby American.

It’s only race event came at the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring where, after experimenting with automatic gearboxes during practice, a manual transmission was fitted for the race. When the engine of the lead GT40 Mk II seized, the ‘X-1’ Roadster of Miles and Ruby slipped through to victory.

1966 Ferrari 330 P3

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

With all the attention now on winning the Le Mans 24 Hours, Ford would face tough competition at the 1966 race.

Ferrari had updated its line of prototype racers, creating the new 330 P3. Thanks to fuel injection it now had more horsepower, and was built in both closed- and open-cockpit versions for the epic endurance event.

1966 Porsche 906/6 LH

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Although Ford and Ferrari were the main contenders in 1966, Porsche would also enter a small army of 906 racers at Le Mans.

A total of six 906 machines would contest the race, including three of the brand-new LH ‘lang heck’ prototype versions. Recent victory on the Targa Florio showed the potential of the Porsche.

Strength in numbers

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Keen to beat Ferrari at its own game, Ford entered a total of 15 Mk II GT40s for Le Mans in 1966. Eight were accepted for the race, with Shelby American running three cars. Holman-Moody also fielded another trio, whilst Alan Mann Racing would be responsible for the final two Mk II machines.

Qualifying demonstrated the performance of the GT40 Mk II, with the top four places all taken by Fords. With all eight GT40s inside the top 12, the strategy of total domination looked to be working.

Drama on the road to tomorrow

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Ratcheting up the pressure on the Ford teams was Henry Ford II, acting as official starter for Le Mans in 1966. After the first lap his cars were in the lead, but the coming hours would see tense battle between Ford and Ferrari.

Overnight rain dampened the performance advantage of the big V8 engine in the Fords. However, the Ferrari prototypes began to suffer from overheating, dropping them out of contention.

Controversial photo finish for the win

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

By halfway through the race, Ford MK IIs occupied the top four positions, with Mk I GT40s occupying 5th and 6th. Yet even then, victory was far from secure. The no.3 Mk II, driven by Dan Gurney, blew a head gasket from racing too hard with the no.1 car of Ken Miles and Denny Hulme.

By late morning Mk II GT40s occupied the top three positions, and Ford Racing director Leo Bebbe attempted to engineer a dead heat at the end of the race. Ken Miles was told to slow down to allow the no.2 car of Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon to catch up.

Miles was reported to be unhappy with the contrived photo finish, and lifted off just as the cars reached the finish line. This handed the McLaren/Amon car victory, with Fords filling the other podium places.

Mission accomplished for Ford at Le Mans

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

In just three years Henry Ford II had achieved his goal of beating Ferrari at Le Mans. The Italian company would never take an outright win at the French event again, with the Blue Oval ready to keep coming back.

Ford would go on to claim the P2 category of the 1966 World Sportscar Championship, further cementing its dominance.

1967 Ford GT40 Mk III road car

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

With the GT40 race car cleaning up on track, a bespoke road-going version was now being readied for the street. Unlike previous road-legal GT40s, the Mk III had specific features to make it suited to the highway.

An elongated rear gave access to a luggage compartment, whilst the bumpers gained small chrome overriders. Unlike the race cars, there was no bigger engine, with power still coming from the 289 cubic inch (4.2-litre) V8. Only seven examples of the Mk III were built, with just three in right-hand drive.

Tragedy of the 1967 Ford GT40 J-car

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Despite the success of the Mk II GT40, Ford didn’t rest on its laurels and set about developing the car even further. With power now sufficient, experimental aerodynamic changes to maximise the muscle were made throughout 1966 and 1967, along with a lightened chassis.

Tragedy struck during a test session, when Ken Miles was killed in a high-speed accident at Riverside International Raceway, with blame laid at the lack of downforce from the aero modifications.

1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

The experimental flat-topped roof of the J-car was dropped, but the resulting Mk IV still managed to look distinctive. Lengthened and streamlined to achieve a higher top speed, the Mk IV also featured the lightened chassis.

The death of Ken Miles was not in vain, with a high-strength roll cage also being fitted. Although the Mk IV only entered two races, it claimed a 100% success rate with victories in the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

1968 Ford GT40 Mk I Le Mans

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Concerned by the high speeds seen during the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans, for 1968 engine sizes were capped at 5.0 litres for cars in the Sports class by the FIA. This ruled out the Mk II and Mk IV versions of the GT40, but meant the earlier, smaller-engined Mk I was still eligible.

Now with reliability on its side, the Mk I took overall victory in 1968 driven by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi. It would repeat the same feat in 1969 with Jackie Ickx and Jackie Oliver driving, taking the total number of outright Le Mans wins for the GT40 to four in a row.

Ford GT wins 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Fast forward several decades and Ford found once again on the top step of the podium at Le Mans.

Living up to the reputation of its GT40 predecessors, the new GT race car, ran by Chip Ganassi Racing, took an impressive victory at Le Mans in 2016 in the LMGTE Pro class. Coming exactly 50 years after the first Le Mans win for the GT40, Ford was unsurprisingly ecstatic about the result.

2017 Ford GT ‘66 Heritage Edition

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

To mark the Le Mans wins 50th anniversary, Ford also announced a special edition of a car that hadn’t even actually started production yet. Remembering that historic 1-2-3 victory at the Circuit du Sarthe in 1966, the Heritage Edition featured a colour scheme inspired by the no.2 GT40 driven by Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren.

A Shadow Black exterior – available in either gloss or matte finish – was combined with silver stripes and alloy wheels in gold satin. Inside is a leather-wrapped steering wheel, along with extra carbon fibre and a limited edition plaque.

Ford captures the Le Mans-winning GT40 in Lego

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Along with the modern interpretation of the successful 1966 GT40, Ford also created a miniature Lego version. This had the benefit of being considerably cheaper than the full-size GT supercar, and produced in much larger numbers.

Paired with a Lego version of the 2016 Le Mans-winning Ford GT, the classic 1966 GT40 also comes with a retro driver minifigure. Fans can decide for themselves whether they want it to be Chris Amon or Bruce McLaren.

2019 Ford at Le Mans with historic liveries

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

Ford contested the Le Mans 24 Hour race again each year until 2019, which marked the final year of competition for the GT racer. However, the Chip Ganassi Team would be unable to replicate the success seen in 2016.

Not even racing with retro-inspired liveries for the 2019 edition of the 24 Hours race was enough to help clinch LMGTE Pro victory. Ford would manage fourth in class, with Ferrari taking first place on the podium.

Sunset on the Ford GT Le Mans project

Ford versus Ferrari at Le Mans 1966

In fact, Ferrari has continued to dominate the World GT Manufacturers’ Championship since 2012, taking five titles in seven seasons. It means that more than 55 years after Henry Ford II declared war on the Ferrari at Le Mans, the battle is still seemingly far from over.

The scheduled cinematic release date for ‘Ford v Ferrari’ is now November 15th 2019. It means only a few more months of waiting for fans to witness the recreation of this special chapter in motorsport history.

Opinion: Of course Stuart Pearce drove a Ford Capri

Stuart Pearce drove a Ford Capri

Stuart Pearce drove a Ford Capri. Of course he did. You can’t imagine ‘Psycho’ behind the wheel of anything other than a Ford Capri.

This isn’t news. Pearce hung up his boots in 2002 and hasn’t put on a managerial suit or tracksuit since 2015. But the story of Pearce and his Capri was the most interesting part of a recent press release.

Green Flag is celebrating its 25th birthday this year and has enlisted the help of the former Nottingham Forest and England left-back as a campaign spokesperson. Pearce played for England 25 years ago when Green Flag sponsored the national team.

The motoring organisation was the first brand to sponsor England in 1994, with the deal ending with the FIFA World Cup tournament in July 1998. Pearce didn’t make the squad, but he took part in the subsequent Euro 2000 qualifying campaign.

From Betsy Loo to Cruella de Ville

“Driving has always been a massive part of my life,” said Pearce. “I bought my first car in 1979, her name was Betsy Loo, it was a blue Aston [sic] Morris 1300 which cost me just £225.

“When I turned professional at the age of 21, I treated myself to a Ford Capri, named Cruella de Ville. This was my favourite ever car that I’ve owned – even though it refused to start in the cold weather.”

Let’s be honest, the Capri was made for geezer like Pearce. The only car more suited for a tough-tackling left-back from Hammersmith would be a Mk1 or Mk2 Ford Granada, but a Capri just feels right for a footballer of the 80s and early 90s.

Put it this way, you can’t imagine Pearcey in an Opel Manta, Volkswagen Scirocco or Toyota Celica. Given his penalty miss at Italia ’90, it’s probably best if we don’t mention that British Capri production ceased in 1976, meaning his Capri was almost certainly built in Germany.

This Guardian article references Pearce’s steadfast refusal to fall “for the rich man’s trappings” of a professional footballer, and how his Capri was “stubbornly parked among the Porsches” in the players’ car park.

He was almost certainly the last to leave the home ground, not because he was in the club bar or tied up signing autographs for young Coventry City or Nottingham Forest fans, but because the Capri would often fail to start.

“It used to take an eternity to start the car in the cold weather, my older brother would put his donkey jacket over the car engine in the winter so that it wasn’t as cold when he went to start it the following morning.

“I also remember having to start cars on hills in cold weather to get them going. Defrosting windscreens also took an age, as did warming up the inside of the cars – we didn’t have the luxury of heated seats!”

Please tell us that tough-as-nails Stuart Pearce doesn’t enjoy the ‘luxury’ of a heated seat. That would be like telling us that Dwayne Johnson has a knitted toilet roll cover in his downstairs cloakroom. Or Jason Statham insists on having fondant fancies served to him on a paper doily.

‘Flying cars will become the norm,’ says Stuart Pearce

Flying cars will become the norm

Still, if there’s one thing you didn’t expect to read today, it’s Stuart Pearce’s vision of what cars will look like in 25 years time.

“In the future, I have no doubt that cars will keep getting ‘greener’ which is really important considering the environmental issues we currently face. The research shows that 50 percent of Brits think that that cars will be self-driving in the future, and I count myself in that number.

“Likewise, the way that technology is developing, flying cars will become the norm in the not too distant future – although I don’t think I’ll be giving that a try any time soon”.

We’ll leave you with the news that Pearce has a “large punk collection in [his] car to help keep [him] entertained on long journeys”.

If you’re not imaging the footwells of a black Mk3 Ford Capri 2.8i loaded up to the air vents with cassettes of The Stranglers, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and The Clash, you’re not trying hard enough. 

Main image courtesy of Austin Osuide.

Mountune’s 520hp Ford Focus RS is beautifully mad

Ford Focus RS Mountune M520 package

Engineering company Mountune has secured its place as the proprietors of the maddest fast Fords with the release of the M450 and M520 power packages for the Mk3 Focus RS.

Taking the Focus RS beyond 500hp

Ford Focus RS Mountune M520 package

How exactly do you get a 2.3-litre Ecoboost engine, one that left the factory with 350hp, up to 500hp and beyond? As you might imagine, some serious upgrades are required.

(Oh, but if you’ve already bought Mountune power upgrades, we’ve some good news. The plumbing you get with the M400 package is retained and not replaced.)

The key upgrade for both the M450 and M520 is the turbocharger. The units are suppled by BorgWarner, though the one on the M520 is bit bigger. Both turbos use low inertia Gamma-Ti turbine wheels and dual-row ceramic ball bearings for a quicker spool and response.

The M520 also gets an uprated fuel pump, more aggressively-profiled camshafts and a stronger valvetrain. Both packages work together with top-quality Mountune software tuning to deliver their performance figures.

Exclusive: taking a ride in the M520 Focus RS

Ford Focus RS Mountune M520 package

On a recent visit to Mountune, to test out their M225 Fiesta ST and their new M52 stage one Golf R, we got the opportunity to have very quick ride out in the development M520 Focus.

Quick both in the sense that we weren’t out very long, and quick in that sense. We only got a brief taste, but it was long enough to work out the Focus was a serious bit of kit, but that the extensive power upgrade didn’t ruin the engine for conventional use. It’s not compromised like a race car, it just pulls like one…

We’ll be feeling that for ourselves very soon when we head back down for a go in an M520 Focus. In the meantime, here’s our review of the new Mountune Fiesta ST.

Ford Focus RS Mountune M520 package

The new kits cost a respective £2,950 and £5,974 for the M450 or M520 packages. Why the extra £3,000 for the M520? Those new camshafts and the improved valvetrain – it’s a much more comprehensive upgrade.

As above, if your Focus RS is still ‘virgin’, you may be looking at a bit more on top for a radiator, and various other cooling and plumbing bits.

“We have worked hard to develop upgrades that build on the success of the m400X and m400R kits,” said Alec Pell-Johnson, Director of Mountune Performance.

“With the very latest BorgWarner turbocharger platform, both upgrades deliver exceptional levels of power and torque, turning the RS into something quite remarkable.

“After the positive initial feedback we received from the official unveiling of the kits at Ford Fair, we can’t wait to start fitting them to our customers’ cars.”

Ford GT40 roadster could make millions in Monterey

Ford GT40 Roadster for sale Monterey

The first prototype of just five Ford GT40 roadsters is up for auction with RM Sotheby’s at Monterey Car Week.

Among the rarest variants of one of the greatest racing cars ever, the GT40 is estimated to make up to $9 million (£7.4 million) when it crosses the block on August 15 2019.

The open version of a Le Mans winner

Ford GT40 Roadster for sale Monterey

The roadsters were manufactured as a part of the batch of 12 prototypes that came before the 87 production GT40s. This particular car is the eighth of those 12, and the first of five roadsters.

Following testing at Silverstone in 1965 with Dickie Atwood and Sir John Whitmore, the roadster made its way over to the USA with Shelby American, on a ‘temporary importation for test purposes’ basis.

The car was tested at Shelby’s Imperial Highway headquarters (next to LAX airport), then shown to Ford executives. This is allegedly the only GT40 that Henry Ford II, the man behind the mammoth GT40 programme, ever rode in.

A representation of this car will likely be in the upcoming Ford v Ferrari movie, due out later this year.

F1 star at the wheel

Ford GT40 Roadster for sale Monterey

This roadster is also believed to be the only GT40 that F1 ace Jim Clark ever drove. The legendary champion demonstrated the car during some downtime at the October 1965 Watkins Glen Grand Prix.

It also served as a testbed for the upcoming Mk IV Ford GT, which would go on to win Le Mans in 1967.

Bouncing between various owners over subsequent years, the car was raced on and off by a latter-day owner. His faithful-to-period restoration meant it wasn’t that competitive, but originality matters more to most collectors.

The condition of this GT40 Roadster undoubtedly contributes to its hefty valuation. Prior to the sale in Monterey, it has been in the owned by the same collector for 26 years.

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Ford and British Gas announce electric car charging partnership

Ford and British Gas team up to charge electric cars

Ford and British Gas announce electric car charging partnershipBritish Gas owner Centrica is to provide home chargers and electrified vehicle tariffs to Ford electric vehicle owners in a new partnership.

Ford has teamed up with British Gas (and Bord Gais Energy in the Republic of Ireland) so dealers can offer car buyers a fuss-free, fully-approved installation service.

Owners will get a Ford home charger wall box and special energy tariffs that allow motorists to benefit from cheaper overnight prices.

Centrica will also install charging points at Ford dealerships across the UK and Ireland.

Ford and British Gas announce electric car charging partnership

The partnership is announced as Ford accelerates its ambitious plans to offer an electrified version of every car it sells in Europe. These will include mild hybrid, full hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully battery electric models.

There will be an all-electric SUV inspired by the Mustang (with a range of 370 miles) in 2020, an all-electric Transit in 2020 and a mass-market electric car in 2023 – as part of Ford’s technical partnership with Volkswagen.

An all-electric Ford F-150 truck will also launch in America next year. 

“Ford is committed to delivering one of the most comprehensive line-ups of electrified vehicles for our customers, powered through the Ford home charger Wall Boxes, said Andy Barratt, managing director, Ford of Britain.

“With their scale, experience and access to the electric grid, our partnership with Centrica will enable us to offer a one-stop shop for our customers as they transition to an electrified vehicle, including exciting new vehicle options, wall box, installation service and electricity tariff.”

More details of the Ford partnership with Centrica will be revealed closer to its market launch.

Ford fan spends £77,000 on his dream Transit

£77,000 Ford Transit

Ford fanatic Steve North is now the lucky owner of this very special Transit Custom.

The supervan super fan has taken the Custom part of the Transit’s name to a whole new level. His one-off creation reportedly cost in the region of £77,000 (almost $95,000) to build.

£77,000 Ford Transit

Looking as sporty as it does, you might be surprised to learn that nothing here invalidates the Ford warranty. That’s because the aesthetic mods were carried out by one of Ford of Britain’s ‘Qualified Vehicle Modifiers’ or QVMs.

MS-RT, a company started by one of the team behind M-Sport racing, gave this Transit the RS look. It wears 18-inch wheels, twin-exit exhausts and an aggressive livery.

The interior is modified by a company called Wellhouse, which has added a level of luxury comparable with a limousine.

£77,000 Ford Transit

The Transit is kitted out with a full kitchen, plush seating and an extendable roof. Added luxuries include xenon headlights, sat-nav, adaptive cruise control, a star-lit Alcantara roof and an Alcantara-trimmed dashboard. All this van is missing is a flying lady mascot and a V12 under the bonnet.

Speaking of under the bonnet, that’s not so extreme. The Transit has a 170 horsepower 2.0 Ecoblue diesel engine, putting power to ground via a six-speed automatic gearbox. 

The man behind the van

£77,000 Ford Transit

Owner Steve really is a devout Ford fan, too. He began helping to tune them around the age of 11.

Steve has owned all sorts of Fords, including Escorts of all ages, a Cortina and a Sierra. He even prepared a Mk2 Escort rally car.

Now, he’s sold up in search of the quiet life, albeit in this jazzed-up Transit. Power to him, we say.

Inside Ford’s secret retro and classic car collection

Ford Heritage Centre

Tucked away on the outskirts of Ford’s sprawling Dagenham factory is a small, slightly ramshackle warehouse. Inside is a huge array of classic cars representing more than 110 years of Blue Oval history. From Cortinas to Cosworths, we lifted up the dust sheets to photograph the highlights.

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Ford Heritage Centre

The mighty Sierra RS Cosworth celebrated its 30th birthday in 2016. A turbocharged 204hp 2.0-litre 16-valve engine meant 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 149mph – serious stuff in 1986. This particular car was used for development work at Dunton, Essex, and is still fitted with a rollcage.

Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Ford Heritage Centre

The 1992 Escort witnessed the second coming of Cosworth. It retained the trademark ‘whale tail’ wing of its predecessor (albeit as an option), but boasted 225hp and four-wheel drive. The ‘Cossie’ was also a successful rally car, before being replaced by the Focus WRC in 1999.

Ford Fiesta

Ford Heritage Centre

The Fiesta is the UK’s most popular car. This 1976 model is 43 years old and – as a brief drive around Dagenham revealed – still in great shape. In fact, it was actually driven to Switzerland for a recent Geneva Motor Show. Not bad for 957cc…

Ford Fiesta

Ford Heritage Centre

The Mk2 Ford Fiesta arrived in 1983, facing rivals such as the Austin Metro and Vauxhall Nova. This is the back-to-basics 1.1 Popular Plus, with a four-speed manual gearbox.

Ford Fiesta XR2

Ford Heritage Centre

The 1980s were the halcyon days of the hot hatch, and the Fiesta XR2 was one of the biggest sellers. With a bodykit, spotlights and ‘pepperpot’ alloys, it looked the business. Performance was less spectacular: 0-60mph in 10.2sec and 112mph flat-out.

Ford Model T

Ford Heritage Centre

The 1908 Ford Model T was the first car to be mass-produced. Doing so brought costs down, putting cars within the reach of ‘normal’ people. Thus the Model T changed the world more, perhaps, than any other car. Unlike most old cars, it looks remarkably big alongside modern metal.

Ford RS200

Ford Heritage Centre

Now for something somewhat swifter… The RS200 is one of the fastest and most exclusive Fords ever made. A road-legal rally car, it had a mid-mounted 1.8-litre 250hp turbocharged engine and lightweight fibreglass body panels. Only 200 road cars were made.

Ford RS200

Ford Heritage Centre

The rallying version of the RS200 was even more extreme. Designed to compete in the notorious Group B, it was boosted to 450hp and could hit 62mph in 3.8 seconds. Sadly, the Group B era was cut short in 1986 after several fatal crashes.

Ford rally cars

Ford Heritage Centre

Ford has a long history of rallying. Indeed, the rear-wheel-drive Mk1 and Mk2 Escorts and are among the most successful rally cars of all time. The Mk2 RS1800 in the foreground won the 1977 RAC Rally with Björn Waldegard at the wheel.

Ford Anglia 105E

Ford Heritage Centre

Harry Potter fans will recognise this one. The Anglia 105E was built from 1959 to 1968 and had American-influenced styling, including small tailfins. Its 997cc engine accelerated the Anglia to 60mph in 26.9 seconds – probably not fast enough to take off…

Ford Escort Mexico

Ford Heritage Centre

Now we’re talking. The Escort Mexico was a sporty special edition created to celebrate the Ford’s victory in the 1970 London to Mexico rally. This car was also displayed at the Geneva Motor Show, alongside the Sierra Cosworth featured earlier.

Ford Mondeo

Ford Heritage Centre

A future classic? Certain members of the Motoring Research team certainly think so. This Mondeo GLX, complete with blue velour trim, would have been a sales rep’s dream back in 1994.

Ford Escort

Ford Heritage Centre

Few people are likely to dream about a Mk5 Escort, but this example is notable for having covered just 800 miles from new. The much-maligned Escort was replaced by the Focus in 1998, a car that turned around Ford’s reputation.

Ford Escort XR3i

Ford Heritage Centre

Here’s an Escort we can get excited about. The Mk4 XR3i wasn’t particularly special to drive, or even very quick (0-62mph in 9.1sec). But with its red go-faster stripes and racy graphics, it sums up the 1980s for us. Everyone loves a bit of nostalgia, right?

Ford Capri

Ford Heritage Centre

Another car very evocative of its era is the Capri. This 1977 example is one of the later Mk2 cars, and boasts a herculean 72hp from its 1.6-litre engine. Still, it could be worse: the 1.3-litre Capri produced just 55hp…

Ford Capri 280

Ford Heritage Centre

With a 2.8-litre V6 under its lengthy bonnet, the 160hp Capri 280 had more than twice as much power as the lowly 1.6. This Brooklands Green beauty was the last hurrah before Ford discontinued the Capri for good – making it a highly sought-after special edition.

Ford Mustang

Ford Heritage Centre

The Capri was effectively the European version of this car: the iconic Ford Mustang.

Ford Mustang

Ford Heritage Centre

And here’s an example of the more recent Mustang – the full-fat 5.0-litre V8 version, no less. With 412 ponies to its name, the V8 ’Stang will hit 62mph in 4.8 seconds. Or you could just use the Line Lock function to create lots of tyre smoke. Better to burnout than fade away…

Ford Transits

Ford Heritage Centre

Now for something altogether more practical. The Ford Transit van is approaching its 55th anniversary, and it remains the UK’s most popular commercial vehicle. The record for the highest number of people ever squeezed into a Transit is… 48.

Ford Transit

Ford Heritage Centre

This is the oldest surviving roadworthy Ford Transit. It has a 64hp V4 engine, plus leaf-spring suspension front and rear. It would have cost £542 when new in 1965.

Ford Transit Connect X-Press

Ford Heritage Centre

This one-off Transit is a little racier. Its running gear comes from a Mk1 Focus RS, which means 215hp – amplified by a Bosal sports exhaust. The X-Press also has lower suspension, a stiffer chassis and hip-hugging Recaro seats. We bet it’s a riot to drive.

Ford Transit Supervan 3

Ford Heritage Centre

Ford built three Transit Supervans. This third version arrived in 1995, complete with a 650hp 3.5-litre engine from a Formula 1 car. It has since been fitted with a 2.9-litre Cosworth engine, which is being tinkered with here.

Ford Cortina

Ford Heritage Centre

Here’s another one that takes us back. There was once a Mk5 Cortina on every suburban street in Britain, but they are all-but extinct now. This 1982 Cortina Crusader has a 91hp 1.6-litre petrol engine, Strato Silver paint and grey velour trim.

Ford Cortina

Ford Heritage Centre

This is an earlier Mk3 Cortina from 1974. Its 1.3-litre Kent engine would have provided steady progress at best. However, we love the ‘Coke-bottle’ styling and very-70s lurid green paint.

Ford Granada

Ford Heritage Centre

Above the Cortina sat Ford’s flagship: the spacious and luxurious Granada. Three body styles were available: four-door saloon, two-door coupe and the estate seen here. Few cars say ‘East End gangster’ like an old Granny…

Ford Granada

Ford Heritage Centre

The squarer Mk2 Granada was launched in 1977 and boasted innovations such as fuel injection and air conditioning. A prime candidate for a future Motoring Research Retro Road Test?

Ford Escort RS Cosworth

Ford Heritage Centre

As if the Escort Cosworth wasn’t in-yer-face enough, how about one in bright yellow? The bloodline between the RS Cosworth variants of the Escort and Focus is clear to see.

Ford Focus RS500

Ford Heritage Centre

Ford has a knack for producing ultra-desirable special editions, and the matte-black Mk2 Focus RS500 is just such a car. Its 2.5-litre turbocharged engine is cranked up to 350hp, giving 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 165mph. Only 500 were made.

The meeting room

Ford Heritage Centre

The meeting room at Ford’s Heritage Centre is just as fascinating as the cars. It looks like it hasn’t changed since about 1965. The bookshelves are crammed with dusty tomes about Ford history.

Model magic

Ford Heritage Centre

There are some fantastic models on display, too. In the days before computer-aided design, scale models like the Mk1 Escort here were used to show managers and potential customers how a new car would look.

Ford Fiesta

Ford Heritage Centre

Some cars in the Ford Heritage collection get more love than others, and this 1996 Mk4 Fiesta clearly hasn’t moved for a while. Top marks for spotting the near-identical Mazda 121 version on the road.

Ford Fiesta XR2i

Ford Heritage Centre

Another unloved Fiesta is the 1989 Mk3 XR2i. This lukewarm hatch gained fuel injection (hence the ‘i’ suffix) but lost the cheeky, fun-to-drive character of the Mk2 XR2. Not one of the finest fast Fords.

Ford Fiesta

Ford Heritage Centre

Few things say ‘1970s’ like a beige Mk1 Fiesta with brown vinyl upholstery. Although this lovely example actually dates from 1981.

Formula Ford

Ford Heritage Centre

Tucked away behind the fibreglass front of the Supervan 3 (it’s having work done, remember?) is a Formula Ford racing car. The series has served as a springboard for many Formula 1 drivers since the 1960s.

Rolling chassis

Ford Heritage Centre

The Ford Heritage Centre isn’t a museum, and many of the cars are works-in-progress. Three guesses as to what this rolling chassis belongs to. We know it’s a Ford, but beyond that we’re stumped…

Ford Model A

Ford Heritage Centre

As the car that replaced the Model T, the 1927 Model A had a tough act to follow. UK versions had a 2.0-litre 28hp engine and were available in a huge range of body styles – from roadster to panel van. Note the rear-hinged ‘suicide’ doors.

Ford Model Y

Ford Heritage Centre

The Model A gave way to the Model Y in 1931. A compact car well suited to European roads, the Y had a 933cc engine and a top speed of 60mph. It remained in production until 1937.

Ford Zodiac

Ford Heritage Centre

With its two-tone paint and plentiful chrome, the Mk2 Ford Zodiac was clearly influenced by more glamorous cars from across the pond. The Zodiac was the upmarket version of the contemporary Ford Zephyr.

Ford Transit

Ford Heritage Centre

Finished in what looks like period ‘British Telecom yellow’, this Transit will look oddly familiar to anyone who remembers the 1980s. Spot the promotional World Rally Transit from 2001 in the background.

Ford Thames 307E

Ford Heritage Centre

The Ford Thames was essentially a commercial version of the Anglia. In fact, it was renamed the Anglia van after 1965. The chrome grille marks this out as being the more capable 7cwt version of the 307E – others had a basic, painted metal grille.

Ford Quadricycle

Ford Heritage Centre

This Ford Quadricycle is actually a replica, made by apprentices in July 1963 for the Henry Ford centenary. It’s a faithful reproduction of the first vehicle Ford built in 1896.

Ford Fiesta XR2

Ford Heritage Centre

We couldn’t resist another XR2. We borrowed this car for one of our Retro Road Tests – and didn’t want to give it back. It’s crude and almost comically basic by modern standards, but fabulous fun. And it got a hero’s welcome on the streets of Dagenham.

Ford Fiesta ST

Ford Heritage Centre

Can’t afford the brilliant new Fiesta ST? Don’t worry, neither can we. The Mk5 ST, however, is a cheaper alternative that is ageing well. Prices are starting to rise, so grab one while you can.

More models

Ford Heritage Centre

How cool is this Mk4 Zodiac model? The real thing was powered by a 3.0-litre V6, and a very stylish way to travel in 1966.

Number crunchers

Ford Heritage Centre

Before microchips, mechanical adding machines were used to calculate Ford’s profit and loss. These perfectly-preserved examples are in the Heritage Centre meeting room.

Ford Cortina

Ford Heritage Centre

The Mk2 Cortina was launched in 1966, and in 1967 it became Britain’s best selling car. This dusty 1600 Super still looks great.

Ford Cortina

Ford Heritage Centre

We even love the Cortina’s chrome badges. From an era before ‘metal-effect’ plastic…

Ford Model T

Ford Heritage Centre

As our gallery draws to a close, let’s go back to the beginning with the Ford Model T. Looks like this Tin Lizzy has a slight oil leak…

A treasure trove of Ford history

Ford Heritage Centre

Sadly, the Ford Heritage Collection isn’t open to the public, but we hope you enjoyed this peek beneath the dust sheets.

All-electric Ford F-150 tows a HUGE train

Electric Ford F-150 towing train

Ford has put its electric F-150 prototype on a strict training regime, as it proves its pulling power with an impressive towing demonstration.

Questions over range, infrastructure and longevity continue as consumers consider making the switch to electric cars. But there’s a niggling question in the commercial sector: can electric cars tow? Ford thinks so, and has given video evidence of an F-150 prototype pulling a train to prove it.

Yes, a train…

This wasn’t just a controlled situation for the benefit of the video. Ford called upon the help of a group of Ford F-150 die-hard owners of the USA’s best-selling pickup.

To prove that the electric F-150 can be ‘Built Ford Tough’, they pulled the train carriages loaded with 42 normal F-150s. The train itself consists of ten double-decker rail cars. We like a bit of overkill.

Electric Ford F-150 towing train

In truth it’s not surprising that the electric F-150 is able to tow a heavy train without a sweat. Electric powertrains are famed for their impressive torque levels. The question is around how the batteries and electric motors deal with the added load. Ford reckons its components are up to the task and has produced the video evidence.

This is definitely the towing equivalent of taking an expensive watch to the bottom of the Mariana Trench…

Electric Ford F-150 towing train

The F-150 hybrid is due to go on sale next year, but Ford has confirmed that it will also be putting an electric F-150 into production in the not-too-distant future.

We’re also expecting an all-electric Mustang-flavoured SUV to join the fray, along with a new Bronco. Whether the latter will get the EV treatment remains to be seen.

How Ford helped put a man on the moon

Ford helped the moon landings

As the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of man taking his first steps on the moon, auto enthusiasts will be fascinated to learn that the Ford Motor Company was an integral part of the moon landing operation, as well as three further decades of operations.

“Really,” you’re thinking? Surely it must have been something to do with the lunar rover… False. It wasn’t until the Apollo 15 Lunar visit of 1971 that the lunar rover went to the moon.

Ford’s involvement in the Apollo 11 moon landing is far more in-depth, albeit not in the sense you’d expect.

Ford’s (space) race division

Ford helped the moon landings

Ford was actually involved in the construction and maintenance of the Mission Control Centre. How? As the outside investor for Philco, an engineering company founded on the manufacturing of carbon arc lamps, followed by batteries, radios, televisions and innovative transistors.

It was in 1961 that Ford’s beyond-automobile venture Philco-Ford came into being. This is the division that would see the Ford name be integral in our first adventures to other celestial bodies.

Houston Mission Control Gemini Plotter

Philco-Ford, a relative underdog company, beat the likes of IBM, Lockheed and AT&T in securing the contract to fit out Mission Control Centre at the new Houston Manned Space Centre. It was the clout and associated resource of the Ford name, along with Philco’s pioneering electronics systems and knowledge, that won the job.

Readying Houston for the moon landing

Ford helped the moon landings

Philco-Ford had a mammoth task on its hands. This was a pioneering task in almost every sense, with new computing and software systems required to both metaphorically, and literally, help tread new ground.

It had to deliver a full control centre capable of managing remote tracking sites, as well as communications and control of the spacecraft itself.

Once the Mission Control Centre was successfully completed in 1965, Philco-Ford remained integral to the operation. It supplied staff on site for constant and consistent support. Each subsequent mission required re-designs, with wiring changes sometimes numbering up to and beyond two million.

The landing itself took things to a new level again – although the most incredible achievement by Philco-Ford would continue in use for a whole year following the return of the Astronauts on July 24, 1969.

In collaboration with IBM and NASA, Philco-Ford developed the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package, or EASEP. This device was to remain on the moon to learn more about the lunar environment long after Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong had returned home.

Philco-Ford to Ford Aerospace

Ford helped the moon landings

The Ford name would endure as an integral part of out-of-atmosphere activities throughout the next two decades.

In 1980, as many as half the communications satellites operational in orbit had been build by Ford, following the company’s 1976 evolution into Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation.

It wasn’t until 1990 that Ford divested its space explorer division, when Ford Aerospace was sold to Loral Corporation.

From the lunar orbit, landings, to satellite coms, Skylad, Apollo-Soyuz and the Space Shuttle, the stamp of the blue oval on man’s pioneering exploits to the final frontier are undeniable.